The Instigator
cometfire7
Pro (for)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
LightC
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points

In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
LightC
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/11/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,301 times Debate No: 6468
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (3)

 

cometfire7

Pro

Intro: Abraham Lincoln once defined America's democracy as a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." The "people" in this quote refers to American Citizens. In this quote, it says that the citizens control the government. Since the way that the citizens control the government is by voting, I urge you to affirm the resolution: In a democratic society, felons ought to retain the right to vote.
For clarity I would like to give the following definitions:
Felon: a person who has committed a felony, which is a grave offense against society, such as murder or burglary, and commonly punished by imprisonment of more than a year, or death.
Democratic Society: an organized group that is characterized by the principle of political or social equality
Disenfranchisement: To deny the right to vote of a person.
Vote: To express or signify will or choice in a matter
Retain: To keep hold of
Value: My value in this round will be a democracy. A democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is held completely by the people under a free electoral system. This means that the people have all the power. My value criterion is maintaining equality. Equality is the idea that all people should be treated the same, with the same rights. Equality can achieve democracy because in an ideal democracy, the people hold the power, which is evenly distributed throughout the people. Thus, equality is the way to democracy.
Body:
1)Since all citizens should vote, and all felons are citizens, therefore all felons should retain the right to vote. The 26th amendment of the Constitution states that all citizens over 18 years old have the right to vote. Also, the resolution says that "felons ought to retain the right to vote. This implies that voting is a right, because in order to retain something, it has to be already there. All felons are citizens. Just because they have committed a felony doesn't mean that they immediately lose citizenship. Disallowing the felon's right to vote would not be possible because denying the citizenship of a person just because he committed something as simple as burglary is completely insensible. This relates to my VC because it talks about voting. Equality means that everyone has equal rights, and since voting is a right, everyone should have equal rights to vote.
2)My second contention is that disallowing a felon to vote is showing prejudice towards the person. The 15th amendment of the US Constitution states, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Since statistics show that some types of people are more affected than others by felon disenfranchisement, which is prohibiting felons to vote, my contention relates to the resolution.
a)Felon disenfranchisement is prejudiced on social classes. In a book review by Jason DeParle, which was published on the New York Times, he stated that, "everyone is affected, but not equally…Whites with only a high school education get locked up twenty times as often as those with college degrees." Since the wealth of a family will often determine whether their children go to college, and which college they will go to, felon disenfranchisement clearly discriminates against poorer families.
b)Also, denying felons the right to vote makes them second class citizens. Since all US citizens should be equal, as shown in the Declaration of Independence "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" No one can claim superiority over their own siblings. In the same way, no one can claim superiority in rights over any other person, because scientists have proven that all humans came from the same peoples. Since all humans are equal, there should not be second-class citizens, so felons should not be denied the right to vote.
c)This supports equality, because prejudice is an example of inequality. By allowing felons to vote, we can maintain equality of the people, and thereby achieve democracy.
3)My third contention is that felony is an opinion. it is not always the same. Since the resolution does not state that the democracy has determined the person to be a felon, it is possible that a person who creates a democratic society can be a felon from a dictatorship that had happened before the democracy.
a)This can be shown in the country of Maldives, in Southeast Asia, which is currently a democratic society. This democracy is currently headed by a man who was placed in house arrest for speaking out against a brutal government. This shows that although he was considered a felon to the previous government, he is now still part of a democratic society.
b)Since the act of felony is an opinion, it will differ by people, and therefore, we have no right to disallow a felon to vote, when his act of felony might be anything from drug abuse to burglary to serial murder. Therefore, felon disenfranchisement is wrong because it restricts the rights of citizens.
4)My fourth contention is that voting can be for anything. It could be a vote for a preferred lunch, or a vote for the name of an adopted pet's name. Thus, felons should have the right to express their own feelings about a certain thing through voting.
Conclusion: Disallowing felons to vote will lead to a downfall of a democracy. In the book, Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville, it states "Once a people begin to interfere with the voting qualification, one can be sure that sooner or later it will abolish it altogether. That is one of the most invariable rules of social behavior." This means that disallowing some types of people to vote can be continued to completely abolishing the concept of voting. Since a democracy needs voting to occur, disallowing felons to vote will eventually destroy the democracy. I would also like to remind you that all citizens have the right to vote, as determined in the Constitution, which is the basis of American government. Therefore, I urge to affirm the resolution: In a democratic society, felons should be allowed to vote. Thank You!
LightC

Con

1.Democratic society: a society in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them.

1.. Freedom depends on contingent judgments, not categorical rights. And the contingent judgments need not lead to universal inclusion. For instance, children do not have the right to vote because they have not reached the age of maturity. With this in mind, it is clear that positive rights are given when the agent receiving them is deemed a responsible person. Therefore, the notion that all rights should be given to everyone in a democratic society is flawed. Furthermore, since voting is a positive right it can be taken away, restricted or limited by the government.

The negative values Justice, which is giving each their proper due. In any society, democratic or not, the governments duty is to reach a higher standard. I.e. justice. Furthermore, the resolution is about punishment. Punishment must be just. Thus, the resolution implies a value of justice. The value of justice is achieved by the criterion of Contractarianism. This is the idea that justice is allocated more properly when there is a contract between people or a group of people. If such a contract is created, then justice is built on that mutual agreement. In the case of government, this contract is called the social contract. Therefore, to achieve justice it is necessary for each group to uphold their side of the contract; government to people, and people to government.

Contention I: Social Contract Theory

A.Reciprocated Responsibility. As the citizen is the "law-maker," he or she should not be the "law-breaker." Since the law is the result of an individual's own decision making in a democratic society the individual is bound to accept it. Allowing felons the right to vote is a fundamental violation of the notion of reciprocity that undergrids a democratic society. Michael J. Cholbi explains "An individual's right to make laws requires that the individual reciprocates by obeying the law. Since felons violate this reciprocated responsibility they in-turn lose the right to make laws which govern society. Felons have shown they can't regulate themselves; therefore they should not have the right to regulate others."

B.The General Will. Rousseau theorized that when a contract is made with the consent of the governed, the general will is formed. The general will is not the will of the majority. Rather, it is the will of the political organism that he sees as an entity with a life of its own. Basically the general will is formed when all law-abiding citizens come together to create order within society. However, the general will is only legitimate when it is created by the consent of those that follow the law. Rousseau explains "When an individual blatantly disregards the law and what it stands for becomes an enemy of the general will. His individual will is contrary to the good formed by the governed. Therefore, it is the duty of that government to restrict him from further participating in the compact. The contract is upheld by the consent of the governed whose will determines the law. Law-breakers have shown their contempt for the law itself, and thus ought not have the power to determine the general will."

C.Felonies hurt moral agency. Richard L. Lipke explains "A different sort of retributive argument for disenfranchisement focuses on devising criminal sanctions imposing penal losses on offenders commensurate with the harms they culpably caused their victims. In particular, consider offenders whose crimes result in the deaths or drastic diminishment of the quality of their victims' lives. Such offenders may be appropriately sentenced to serve extended prison terms. In these kinds of cases it could be argued, on retributive grounds, that offenders ought to suffer something akin to political death in addition to incarceration. The state should treat them as political non-entities in much the way these offenders treated their victims as moral non-entities." Basically, disenfranchisement is necessary for a just punishment because it is a way to match the action of hurting the victim's moral agency with the political agency of the criminal.

[Rebuttal]

Value - Democracy

I have two responses:

First, democracy is not inherent because the resolution states "democratic society." There is a line between the two. For example, Athens would be a "pure democracy," but the US is a democratic republic. Therefore, a democratic society can be a democracy, but doesn't have to be, all it has to have is some values of a democracy. Since he defines a democracy, but not a democratic society, you can drop his value on definitional terms.

Second, his value is inferior to mine because justice is what every government ought to achieve, and it is the framework value when talking about punishment.

VC - Equality

I have 2 responses:

First, he says "Equality is the idea that all people should be treated the same, with the same rights. Equality can achieve democracy because in an ideal democracy, the people hold the power, which is evenly distributed throughout the people." I have already shown how an "ideal democracy" is not inherent to the resolution.

Second, equality can stretch so far until the idea of equality is lost unto itself. For example, to achieve equality we can let all murderers out of jail so they can be equal to the citizens. However, every sane person would tell you that that is so wrong. Valuing equality for equality's sake is illogical and fallacious.

Contention Overview: He writes many times about the US. However the US is not a pure-democracy and thus has not link to his value structure.

C1

"All felons are citizens. Just because they have committed a felony doesn't mean that they immediately lose citizenship."

--> no, but they can lose rights. E.g. right to bear arms.

"This relates to my VC because it talks about voting. Equality means that everyone has equal rights, and since voting is a right, everyone should have equal rights to vote"

--> That is fallacious, as I have proven up at the top of the AC

C2

"Since statistics show that some types of people are more affected than others by felon disenfranchisement, which is prohibiting felons to vote, my contention relates to the resolution."

--> Logic Extension: By voting off his logic the affirmative world would have no punishments because they would all be justified.

--> Extend this idea to his sub-points.

C3

"it is not always the same. Since the resolution does not state that the democracy has determined the person to be a felon, it is possible that a person who creates a democratic society can be a felon from a dictatorship that had happened before the democracy."

--> you provide no impact

--> Your definition contradicts this

C4

--> you can drop it immediately because the "right to vote," even according to my opponent in his C1 is the abi
Debate Round No. 1
cometfire7

Pro

To attack my opponent's case:
The Negative uses Justice as a value for the resolution, stating that "…the resolution is about punishment. Punishment must be just. Thus, the resolution implies a value of justice" However, there is no place in the resolution where it says the word "punishment". Disallowing a felon to vote would only the protection for the people, according to the negative, because felons can and will make laws that harm the people. Also, Justice is not mentioned anywhere in the Resolution, so Democracy still outweighs justice as a value when it comes to a democratic society, which has the root word demos, which means people. Thus, both democratic society and democracy are closely intertwined.

My opponent also uses the value criterion of Contractarianism, which is basically the Social Contract. The social contract is also his contention, so I will attack both at once.
Contention 1: Social Contract Theorem. Since there is more than one Social Contract, his Contention is vague. I do not know whose Social Contract exactly he is using. Is it Hobbs's, Rousseau's or Locke's? These three Social Contracts were made on totally different theories. Hobbs believed that all men were evil. Rousseau believed that some men were good, and some were evil. Locke believed that all men were good. There is no general theory that can encompass all three of these largely opposite theories. Therefore, I must press for the Neg. to choose which Social Contract Theory he actually uses. If he does not choose, then I will be able to sink his whole contention if I prove that one of the Social Contracts is either fallacious, or supports the Aff.

To attack his sub points, however:

C1A: My opponent uses the idea of reciprocated responsibility. Felons, in this idea, make the laws, and thus they have to obey them --- However, felons do not make the law; they only elect the people who make the law. Also, in the Constitution, it says that the people have the right and duty to revolt against the government if it becomes tyrannical. Thus, if a law is passed that tyrannizes a certain race in the country, that race has the right to revolt. However, according to my opponent, they made that law, but they do not have to obey the law. This is not democratic, because the idea would allow the government to make oppressive laws and the people would still not be allowed to stand up for their rights.
C1B: The Neg. uses General Will in his second contention. The general will is a concept in political philosophy referring to the desire or interest of a people as a whole. However, the flaw with General Will is that it would submit a minority, no matter how little the difference is, to the decisions of the majority.

Ex: There is a democratic country with two rival factions who hate each other and want to exterminate each other. One faction currently has 100,000 supporters. The other faction has 99,999 supporters. However, in a vote for a law, the majority that has only 1 more vote than the other faction can pass a law to kill all supporters of the rival faction. After all, this is General Will. How is this fair, that a teeny, tiny majority of 1 person can decide the deaths of 99,999 people?
Thus, the General Will theory is flawed.

C1C: In summary, my opponent pretty much states that, since they committed a crime against humanity, they have to lose their rights. However, the problem with this idea is:

First, felons should not have to lose their rights in addition to the jail term. There is a law in the United States called double Jeopardy, in which it states that a convicted criminal cannot be punished multiple times for the same crime. So, if the jailing of the felon is already punishment, then the felon should not be disenfranchised because he already has been punished.

Second, even if he does have to lose his or her rights, why does it have to be the right to vote? There are many other rights that people have, why can't they lose the right to mobility, or to bear arms, or to free speech, or freedom of the press? Why is it that they only lose the right to vote? There is no reason why the right to vote is more special or less special than the other rights.

To defend my case:

Actually, the value of Democracy should pretty much stand throughout and is obvious in the resolution based on the root words, as I said before. Both Democracy and a Democratic Society both have the root word demos in them. Thus, both mean, for the people. Also, since democracy is an idea, and a democratic society utilizes the idea of democracy, thus democracy is needed for a democratic society to take place.

My value criterion, equality, also connects to a Democracy because it is implied by the definition of democracy. The definition of democracy is that the supreme power is held completely by the people under a free electoral system. Now, in a democracy, the concept of voting is that the power of the government is equally distributed through the people, so equality does connect strongly to the value of democracy.

Contention Overview: The United States is only being used as an example of a democracy, and by democracy, I did not mean an ideal democracy. Therefore, since my opponent has said that the United States is a democratic republic, it implies that the United States uses democracy, which would enable it to relate to the value.

Since my opponent dropped my point about "once a felon, always a felon", I am allowed to use it in my defense.
C1: As I wrote before, the 26th amendment of the Constitution states that "all citizens over 18 years old have the right to vote." This quote makes no mention of whether those citizens are felons or not. Thus, the only way for a person in the United States to not have the right to vote would be if they are not a citizen, or if they are under 18 years old. Since a felon does not lose his citizenship when he is convicted, then he retains the right to vote for his jail term, and the rest of his life. It is also irrational to deny a person the right to vote for the rest of his life for something as simple as drug abuse, which is a felony, when his felony has harmed no one.
C2: "By voting off his logic the affirmative world would have no punishments because they would all be justified."
This line does not make sense, so I do not need to defend my contention unless the Neg. clarifies this line.
C3: My definition of "felon" does not contradict the fact that a felon does not have to be from the current democracy. My definition of felon is "Felon: a person who has committed a felony, which is a grave offense against society, such as murder or burglary, and commonly punished by imprisonment of more than a year, or death." In nowhere of the definition does it say anything about the system of government. Thus, the Neg's attack against this contention fails, and the contention still stands.
C4: My opponent dropped it, so it stands
Thanks!
LightC

Con

I'll go NC (defend my own case) then AC (rebuttal).

V: Justice

His attack can be summarized as the following (with my responses underneath):

1. Disenfranchisement is not punishment.

--> Punishment is defined as "to impose a penalty on." Disenfranchisement is a punishment because it puts the penalty of restricting the civil right to vote. The government is punishing for illegal activity.

2. Justice is not inherent.

--> Values can either be directly inherent or directly inherent (based on wording.) Since the resolution is asking the question "Should we punish a criminal by disenfranchising them?" then the indirect value of justice is implied, because punishments ought to be just.

3. Protection

--> My argument is not that felons will create laws that will harm us. That has no link to my case.

VC: Contractarianism/Social Contract (C1)

1. Not specific with the type of social contract

--> Not needed. Basically, those three philosophers he cited gave their own contextualization of the social contract. however, there are basic tenets between all of them, of which I mention as my sub-points. I do not need to say a specific contract. Remember my contention is simply the Social Contract THEORY. I.e. the ideas behind it, not a specific contextualized contract.

Sub-A: Reciprocated Responsibility

1. Felons don't make laws

--> By voting for an official they are indirectly making the laws. A person, when they vote, are putting a person into office that has their ideas in mind. Thus, they are indirectly changing policy. However, I would further and say, this right to vote goes beyond just electing legislative officials. For example, when election time comes there are always a few issues in each state that are voted directly by the people. For instance Proposition 8. But you could take this further. As voters we can elect judges and prosecutors who would preside over the very people that are going agaisnt the law. You are basically giving the felons 1 up on the system by giving them the right to vote for those that decide their sentences, etc.

2. Constitution

--> His argument makes no impact to my argument. If the government is unjust, then yes we have a right to revolt. He bascially misconstrues my argument. Sub-A argues that it is hypocritical to give people that broke the law, the right of the law. Furthermore, by doing so, we are giving them power over the law abiding citizens. It doesn't make sense that felons should have the right to tell us what to do, when they could not do it themselves. For example, it is wrong for me to say killing is wrong, then go out and kill 5 people.

Sub-B: General Will

1. Minority Oppression

--> He blatantly misregards where I explain that there is a difference between majority rule, which could be oppressive, and respecting the general will. The general will is the idea that when a society comes together it is the will of the people to create order and stability. However, Rousseau explains that giving someone the right to decide the general will must be respect the will. When one's individual will goes agaisnt the general will, take killing for instance, it is a duty of the people to restrict him/her from further deciding and warping the will.

Sub-C: Moral Agency

1. Jail time

--> basically he argues that you take away rights when there is jail time. This doesn't make any sense. The every essence of jail is the restriction of free access. Thus, jail, is losing a right in and of itself. But if you say you cant lose rights, then jail would destroy itself. Furthermore, is it wrong that we restrict the right to bear arms, and to serve on a jury from these felons? He then goes on to argue double jeopardy. He completely misunderstands this concept. Double Jeopardy is you cant punish more then once, i.e. he cannot be tried again and then punished. If the decision is 50 years in jail, plus enfranchisement, that is all one punishment, according to US penal code.

2. Why the right to vote?

--> Did you read my argument? They should lose the right to vote because it is the only way to amtch the moral agency destroyed vy the criminal and the criminal's political agency, i.e. the right to vote. Since it would be grossly inhumane to say, rape a rapist, then the government must take away the right to vote as compensation for the crime done.

Moving to the AC

V: Democracy

1. Root words

--> This is totally fallacious, yes democratic society and democracy have different root words but this is flawed for two reasons:

First, if your logic were true, then the words dissemble and disturb are the same things because they have the same root.

Second, you totally ignore my previous logic. If your logic were true then the U.S. is a pure, direct democracy, and it isn't. Obviously, there is a distinction between a democracy, which is totally direct, and a democratic society, which keeps main democratic tenets, but are not true democracies.

Thus, you can drop his value for the round.

VC: Equality

--> He completely drops my whole attack agaisnt his VC, thus you can extend it for the round. This was my 1st round attack on his VC:

"Second, equality can stretch so far until the idea of equality is lost unto itself. For example, to achieve equality we can let all murderers out of jail so they can be equal to the citizens. However, every sane person would tell you that that is so wrong. Valuing equality for equality's sake is illogical and fallacious."

Contention Overview

1. Democracy is not a pure democracy

--> Thats what a democracy is, it is a pure democracy and is direct democracy. Everything else, take the US, is a Democratic Republic, it is not a democracy.

*Important Note: You can either accept the true definition of democracy, and keep his value but drop all of his contentions, since they are in some way related to the US, which is not a "democracy." Or you can see my logic and drop his value, which means his whole case is relevant. So either way you look at it, he can lose because he has no value, or because he has no arguments to substantiate that value.*

C1

1. Citizens have the right to vote

--> This is true, they have it, that doesn't mean it cant be restricted. For example, I have a car, but that doesn't mean it can't be taken away from me as punishment.

--> Secondly, the Constitution also states that the right to vote can be restricted under illegal activities and treason.

C2

1. Attack not relevant

--> It is very relevant. Your point is that disenfranchisement is prejudiced agaisnt certain people, e.g. black people. However if this was the basis of a just punishment, then all punishments are dejusitifed because they all have some amoral factor present. E.g. more black people are incarcerated.

C3

--> He never responds to the fact that this point has no impact, and I said in my last speech.

C4

--> Yes you can extend
Debate Round No. 2
cometfire7

Pro

Forfeit

I have no arguments, and I have too much work to continue this. Thanks for debating anyway.
LightC

Con

No problem, good debate (as it was). Hope to debate you again in the future.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by amnda 7 years ago
amnda
new topic of icc is So much better.
Posted by amnda 7 years ago
amnda
oh. some good points were brought but overall a bit silly.
Posted by LightC 7 years ago
LightC
lol, typo correction*
Posted by LightC 7 years ago
LightC
typo orrection: punishments would be DEJUSTIFIED* not justified
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by SeekandDestroy 7 years ago
SeekandDestroy
cometfire7LightCTied
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Vote Placed by farmboy22 7 years ago
farmboy22
cometfire7LightCTied
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Vote Placed by TheRaven 7 years ago
TheRaven
cometfire7LightCTied
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